Time in Yerevan: 11:07,   1 March 2024

US Senate Republicans block Ukraine, Israel aid bill over border dispute

US Senate Republicans block Ukraine, Israel aid bill over border dispute

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 7, ARMENPRESS. An emergency spending bill to provide billions of dollars in new security assistance for Ukraine and Israel was blocked in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday as Republicans pressed their demands for tougher measures to control immigration at the U.S. border with Mexico, Reuters reports.

The vote was 49 in favor to 51 against, leaving the $110.5 billion measure short of the 60 votes needed in the 100-member Senate to pave the way to start debate.

The bill would provide about $50 billion in new security assistance for Ukraine, as well as money for humanitarian and economic aid for the government in Kyiv, plus $14 billion for Israel as it battles Hamas in Gaza.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, also voted "no" so that he could introduce the measure again in the future. After the vote, Schumer noted the risks if Ukraine falls, saying it was a "serious moment that will have lasting consequences for the 21st century," risking the decline of Western democracy.

Republicans said it was essential to make their case for tighter immigration policies and control of the southern U.S. border.

"Today’s vote is what it takes for the Democratic leader to recognize that Senate Republicans mean what we say," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a floor speech earlier on Wednesday. "Then let’s vote. And then let's finally start meeting America's national security priorities, including right here at home."

Even if the bill passes the Senate, it still would need to be approved in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where dozens of Republicans have voted against Ukraine aid, including Speaker Mike Johnson.

"Make no mistake, today's vote is going to be long remembered. History is going to judge harshly those who turned their backs on freedom's cause," President Biden said in remarks at the White House.

Republicans contend that excessive illegal immigration across the southern border with Mexico is a hugely important security concern, and say they want more accountability than they are getting from the Biden administration for U.S. taxpayer funds that go to Ukraine.

The emergency spending bill included $20 billion for border security.

Schumer said on Tuesday he would try to break the impasse by offering Republicans the chance to add an amendment on border policy to the legislation.

No such amendment had been announced by Wednesday evening.

 








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